When a new product hits the market, the best-case scenario for a brand is that the product makes a splash with consumers, and the hard work of marketing the product is handled without issues. It just sort of takes on a (positive) life of its own, and the new product rockets to superstardom.
But that’s a dream scenario, and let’s be honest—in the real world, marketing your brand and products takes a ton of planning, strategy, and sweat equity. And it doesn’t end when you launch your marketing strategy. Savvy brands know that marketing performance needs to be watched like a hawk, and often tweaked and adjusted as time goes on, as not everything you have planned is going to work. Maybe your target market was off, or factors beyond your control (looking at you, pandemic), force you to change your marketing efforts to better meet your goals.
Before you can devise your strategy—let alone revise it—brands need to take a step back and first determine which kind of marketing they need. Niche? Or mass? While there are some similarities, the two can vary greatly. Let’s take a deep dive into what each might mean for emerging brands.
Niche vs mass marketing, defined
As Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp sang, let’s start at the very beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start. And that means understanding what exactly mass marketing and niche marketing are?
Mass marketing can be defined as pointing your marketing strategy toward attracting as many consumers as humanly possible to buy your product. Often, you’ll find mass marketing used with global, established brands. Maximum exposure is the name of the game for mass marketing. Think Coca-Cola, Crest toothpaste, or Dawn soap. Mass marketing has a significant advantage of tapping millions of consumers at once and is sometimes considered less risky than its niche counterpart because it’s not dependent on one small segment of the consumer population.
But niche marketing is at the opposite end of the marketing spectrum. Instead of trying to reach every person who buys any type of consumer packaged goods product, niche marketing focuses your efforts on a predetermined segment of that population.
Let’s say you are marketing a new cereal. Rather than pointing your marketing efforts at all the cereal buyers out there, you take stock of what sets your cereal apart from others. Is it gluten-free, organic, and chocolate? Your marketing efforts would then drill down the cereal buying audience, perhaps, to target the segment of consumers who are looking for a sweet and healthy morning breakfast option.
Niche marketing benefits emerging brands
There is a time and a place for mass marketing efforts, but for smaller, emerging brands, niche marketing is more often than not the route to take. Why? Let us count the ways…
1. Niche marketing is ideal for tight budgets. The fact is that emerging brands probably don’t have the same size spend that established global brands do. Consequently, they have the room and resources to focus only on one or two segments of the consumer population, rather than all segments. That’s not a bad thing—the wider the audience, the more segments brands need to consider, and any content or communication needs to be adjusted for each segment, and that requires a lot of effort on the brand’s part.
2. Niche marketing can enable better engagement. There are six houses on a block, and you’re going door to door to talk with them about your product. You know that three of those houses have consumers who would be interested, while the other three have no interest. Instead of spending time on the three with no interest, you can spend more time building a relationship with the three that do. Focusing on a smaller population provides brands with more opportunities to interact with and engage their consumers, while simultaneously establishing a loyal following.
3. Niche marketing provides the ultimate insight for brands. For a brand to practice successful niche marketing, they not only have to know the consumer segment they are pursuing, they also have to know themselves inside and out. You can’t exactly determine your product’s best target audience; if you don’t know what your product, your mission, your brand, is all about. And when a brand has that kind of self-insight, they are better able to determine the niche, or multiple niches, that are the right avenue for a product.
Finding your niche with niche marketing
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all, cut-and-dry option when it comes to marketing products, but it’s key to note that a successful marketing strategy starts with understanding which avenue will work best for your product. For smaller, emerging brands, niche marketing is often the way to go, when every marketing dollar counts and every effort needs to shine.
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